Cold Weather Health Precautions
Houston County Courier - January 2010
TEXAS - Freezing temperatures, chilling winds, ice storms and snow can cause serious health problems including frostbite and hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature).
· Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices indoors.
Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing, mittens, a hat and a face cover when outdoors.
Be extra cautious in the wind. A strong wind, even in only moderately cold weather, can cause a wind chill far below freezing.
At the first signs of possible frostbite – redness or pain in any skin area – get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin.
Watch for hypothermia symptoms.
Confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, a drop in blood pressure, shallow breathing and a pinkish tint to the skin.
Anyone with hypothermia symptoms is in immediate danger and should receive medical help right away.
Check on elderly or sick people, especially if they live alone or in isolated areas.
Winter storms can cause power outages and lead to food safety problems. If you lose power for more than four hours, take these precautions with refrigerated food products:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during power outages.
Discard any potentially hazardous foods such as meats, eggs, dairy products and leftovers that may have reached a temperature of 40 degrees or higher. When in doubt, throw it out.
Frozen food that has thawed but not exceeded 40 degrees should be prepared as soon as possible. Do not refreeze.
Avoid exposure to deadly carbon monoxide gas. Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or outdoors near a window.
Heat Your Home Safely
If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:
· Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
· Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
· Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
· Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
· Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
· Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
· Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
· Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
· Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
· If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
· Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.